“Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can’t decide what kind of flower you’ll get or in which season it will bloom.”

— Anonymous

Adolescents will always seek autonomy. It’s perfectly normal. The terms of engagement must change.

As parents, we often find ourselves sometimes fighting between our minds and our hearts when it comes to relating with our adolescents, thus making parenting seem like balancing on a tightrope. This is because we are aware that one inappropriate response can dampen a child’s spirit, whereas the right response helps it soar. Each moment in our parenting journey presents us with the opportunity to make or break, to nourish or suppress, to correct or to connect, to be conventional or unconventional.   Having spent much time researching and consulting with experts, we have some parenting tips to help you keep the communication lines open with your adolescent and reduce the challenges of the teenage years.

    1. Don’t Feel Rejected by Their Newfound Independence. During adolescence, they tend to withdraw from their parents and rely more and more on friends, but parents often mistake this withdrawal as rejection. Your child is establishing his or her autonomy and making the transition to adulthood. So, this is not about you. It is about their need to discover themselves and learn the ropes of adulthood which is often signified by independence. Studies have found that excessive monitoring by parents was not effective in preventing teen lying or teen alcohol use. That’s because teens lie more when their parents are overly controlling. 


    1. Release Your Children from the Need for Your Approval. By tying our teenagers to our approval, we bind them to us without realizing it, making them slaves to our perceptions of them. If we continually deny them our approval or constantly require them to depend on it, we will lead them astray. Can you imagine how it must feel for a child to be starved of our approval and fearful of our disapproval? Imagine how different this must be from knowing they are accepted and honoured unconditionally. Many adolescents have gone astray desperately seeking approval from parents as have many because of being starved of it. Adolescence is a phase of personality shaping and identity consolidation. By helping our adolescents grow into their own entities, their very own person as handed them by the Grand Organized Designer, you empower them for life to stay confident in themselves.

Release your children from the need for approval or the lack thereof. Let them learn to be driven intrinsically as that is the only way they can become wholesome adults of the future

      1. Don’t Be Overly Judgmental. We all make mistakes. But when we do, we must learn to first forgive ourselves, understanding that we were well-intentioned, and then let go of the matter. We also want our friends to forgive us if we offend them, understanding that we were well-meaning, and let it be. We should also introduce these elements into our parenting approach to our adolescents when they make mistakes. They are at a phase of life where words can easily shape them or break them. Mistakes should not be viewed as something to latch on to and perpetually punish the perpetrator, rather they should be viewed as opportunities to learn. Isn’t this how we want to ‘critiqued’ when we make mistakes too?


    1. Nurture Your Boy’s Emotional Side. Our male children are increasingly being conditioned by culture and society to “be a man” and as such, they are gradually losing touch with their emotions. This is extremely dangerous. By hiding their emotions, they are prevented from learning the art of proper communication. This lack of communication makes it tough to navigate conflict. When you can’t work through problems, they’ll probably keep happening repeatedly and that’s not good. Society says that anything that has to do with real feelings; love, sadness, vulnerability, is girly, therefore bad. Of course, this is not true but while awareness is ongoing to change that cultural perception, it is critical that the home becomes a psychologically safe haven for your sons where your boys are encouraged to be sensitive and vulnerable at home, while at the same time acknowledging the reality that those traits might not go over well at school.


    1. Grow Your Girl’s Self-esteem. The rates at which our teenage girls are uncomfortable with their body image is scary and alarming as it’s one of the leading causes of suicide. As a mother, you have to model body acceptance. Set a good example.How you accept your body and talk about others’ bodies can have a major impact on your teenage daughter. If you are a single father, you need to get a mother figure in her life who would model this to her. It could be her grandma, a counsellor in your place of worship, a mentor, a teacher, any female with the same values as you that she could look up to, will do just fine. Also, do not raise her as a ‘people pleaser’. It is one of the most damaging things to do to a daughter because she then grows into a woman without a voice.  Encourage her to stand up for what she needs and wants. Create opportunities for her to use her voice. Ask her what she wants and let her make that choice to honour that choice. Help her build skills that are independent of appearance.

These are just a few of the many tips to parent a teenager. Feel free to write to me at tbog@tsageandtbog.com and don’t forget to leave your comments below. What else do you feel that parents of teenagers should do?


The first of four courses in the TRAIN-UP series has been launched! If you want to know how to train up your adolescent not to deviate from family values or how to raise a 21st -century teen/tween using unconventional parenting tools and DIY approaches to everyday parenting scenarios, then this course is for you!!! You will be taken on an evolutionary mindset shift that will foster the nurturing of an open and friendly relationship between you and your adolescent. What’s more? All through the duration of the course, you will have access to real-time counselling sessions with TBOG! To know more about this, click here…



“I see no hope for the future of our people, if they’re dependent upon the frivolous youth of today. For certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and be respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise––otherwise known as disrespectful, and impatient of restraint.”

Hesoid, 700 BC (A Greek Poet)


People have been complaining about adolescents for centuries. For example, adolescents can be a problem for the future of our culture if they continue the way they are. Parents worry about teen pregnancy, being disrespectful to their elders, and things like being unable to control their impulses. All of these things have been a conversation about adolescents apparently since the beginning of time. But we say to ourselves, “don’t worry, each generation turns out just fine” then these adolescents, in turn, complain about the coming generation once they attain parenthood. The cycle continues. It is partly true that each generation turns out right. In the sense that each generation complains about the next but somehow, they find their footing. But there has been an obvious decline in outcomes over the decades. Our adolescents are no longer turning out fine! A publication from the American Psychological Association among others sounds the alarm over the significant increase in mental health issues among adolescents in the past decade. It is no longer okay to assume your adolescents will mysteriously turn out fine with time. Time does not heal, time only reveals. In the same way that we do not assume that an injury will turn out fine without adequate care since it could become gangrenous, so also should we end the assumption that we can be erratic with our parenting and hope for the best. Because in the end, they do not turn out fine!

So, what is adolescence exactly – how do we define it?

We can look at it chronologically, basically just an age which people tend to define as the teenage years between 13 and 19. You can also look at it biologically, using physical markers or physical changes to mark the onset and offset of adolescence. For biological definitions, it starts at the pre-pubertal height spurt, which precedes puberty and ends when people reach full reproductive maturity, which would be around 15-18 years. Or, you can define adolescence in terms of society. The sociological definition would be the timeline between the onset of puberty, the biological markers of puberty, and ends when adolescents assume adult responsibilities. That would be things like leaving home, being able to support themselves, maybe owning a house or a car, or having children, maybe having a job, all of those kinds of things. Some of these definitions can be fairly narrow in time.


The chronological timespan is just six years, but if you take the sociological definition, adolescence could be considered to be 10 or 15 years. For example, if a child doesn’t leave home and take on adult responsibilities until they are around 27 years old.


Puberty is usually an awkward time for our little humans. As parents, we should never forget what it was like for us. It’s what makes us empathic towards the confusion they many times are unable to verbalize. The only saving grace during this weird time is the fact that we must all suffer through it. Somehow, we have to work out a way to come to grips with all the physical changes – and that’s the first task adolescents have to deal with. Puberty alters body size, shape and functioning.


One of the first markers of puberty is a growth spurt. Boys and girls both, tend to grow about six centimetres per year right until they hit their growth spurt. Then their growth increases. For girls, they start to grow about eight and a half centimetres a year for a couple of years, and boys grow about nine centimetres a year for a couple of years. That results in a pretty rapid change in height for children.


I remember my adolescence; I was growing so fast that people found it difficult to believe that I was just twelve years old. I was around 168cm in high school, that’s quite tall for a 12-year old. I was always embarrassed when I stood among my peers because I always stood out! Some of these changes, particularly growth spurts, can happen so rapidly that it’s uncomfortable for children. And on top of that, they have to figure out how to control and move around in a body that is getting very tall and has change proportions.


For girls, it happens a little bit earlier than boys. Girl’s puberty starts earlier than boys and ends earlier than boys. On average, girls start their growth spurt at about 11 years, whereas boys don’t really start to see their growth spurt until 13 or 14 years. This is why when girls hit their growth spurt, girls are often a full head taller than their male peers – because the boys don’t hit their growth spurt until a few years after the girls do.


Adolescents have a lot to deal with. There are a lot of changes that happen during that period, and they have many things to master before they can go on to be adults. One of the things that adolescents have is to come to grips with is all the physical changes that are happening to them—it’s easy for adults to forget how weird it can be when you’re in the middle of it. They also have to find their own adult identities—some sort of identity that they’ll take on as an adult that’s separate from who they were as a child, separate from their parents. They have to learn to manage their emotions and grow their moral inner compass. Finally, they just have to learn to simply to survive. It turns out to be a little bit more difficult than you would think.


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